Green tea is the palest in colour, generally a subtle shade of light green or yellow. The green colour comes primarily from chlorophyll extracted from the green leaves by hot water. After the tea leaves are picked, they are lightly processed to prevent some natural changes from taking place. Of greatest interest to this narrative is the auto-oxidation catalyzed by natural enzymes present in the freshly plucked leaves. If allowed to proceed unchecked, this oxidation would convert the tea progressively to oolong and then black tea.

Light steaming or gentle heat, however, prevents this oxidation, thereby preserving important natural antioxidants in the leaves. The result is the best green tea. The auto-oxidation was originally thought to be caused by microbes and was called fermentation. This is now known not to be the case.

Second, only to water in consumption, green tea is a modern-day cultural icon in China, Japan, and South Korea. This staple of Asian life has spent 2,000 years earning its title as the world’s oldest beverage. A delicious cup of hot or iced green tea always starts with high-quality tea. Yielding 5o cups of tea per 4 ounces of dry leaves, exquisite green teas are an amazingly affordable luxury. Buy your tea from respected retailers or companies that you trust and that specialize in fine teas. Avoid inexpensive tea no matter how good a bargain it seems to be—it’s not really a bargain, as it is guaranteed to make a disappointing brew.

Best Green Tea UK


Is Green Tea Really Good for You?

Happily, we can say that not only is tea enjoyable, it’s good for you. For centuries, China has praised the health benefits of its native plant. Scientists around the world have researched and examined the leaf exhaustively, and they feel now that they know some of the reasons this simple beverage does so much. Tea provides benefits for bones and teeth. Its vital chemical compounds have been found to fight cancer, help stabilize diabetes and do much to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Tea can even make your skin healthier and prettier. And the most beneficial, most healthful tea is the barely processed leaf from the Camellia sinensis bush — green tea. How does a brew from one plant do so much? That is our story. May it bring you information pure and simple, and pleasures small and great.

Buying Green Tea

Appearance and colour are not always clued to quality. Sometimes a tea can be nicely rolled but its taste is mediocre. Also, high-grade greens are sometimes more grey than green in their dried form. Your tea merchant should really know his or her inventory and be able to answer questions about how old the tea is, how it was stored prior to delivery, and how it is stored in the shop. Teas can last for months, but the finest tea will lose its flavour profile in days if not properly stored.

Green tea is a beverage that is most readily enjoyed visually because of the delicate colour of its infused liquor. It is important that the tea be fresh, and the best way to test its freshness is to close your fist tightly around a small amount, breathe in with your nose, then release your fingers. Smell the aroma that has been released from the tea. Is it sweet? Grassy? Pleasant? If there’s no odour or a very faint aroma, the tea is most likely not fresh enough; discard it.

Although this method will tell you much, nothing will reveal the true essence of the tea like cupping it — steeping it with the correct amounts of tea leaves and water heated to the right temperature for the proper amount of time. Whenever possible, ask for a taste sample before buying teas.

While one can often tell much from the dried leaf and the smell of the brewed leaf, the ultimate test is in the mouth. Although there are many variations in colour, your tea merchant should be able to tell you what to expect. If the brew of a green tea is dark gold or orange-amber, that tea may be of a low quality. Most high-quality greens should brew up pale green to yellow-green. Brewed leaves should have a clean “chestnut” flavour, plus a pleasant vegetative flavour, and the better ones will have even more complexity. Can’t quite make the transition from tea bags to loose leaf?

To make sure your box of tea bags is fresh, remove one bag and take out the tea. Pour hot water over just the paper teabag. If the ensuing infusion tastes just like water, hooray. If it tastes more like tea, uh-oh — the paper has absorbed the flavour and the tea is simply too old.

There are many kinds of green tea. You can always buy a box of generic green tea bags at the grocery store or online, but walk into your local coffee shop or teahouse and you’ll see an entire row of containers filled with dark and aromatic tea leaves, each with its own label. What are the differences? Well, the taste, fragrance, and colour of green tea vary depending on where it was grown and how it was processed.

For example, most green teas are cultivated in China, Japan, India, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka. Not only teas are grown in different countries, but even teas grown in different regions within the same country have different tastes and aromas. Following are descriptions of some of the best green tea types available for sale in the United Kingdom.

8 Varieties of Best Green Tea UK 2020 

Jasmine Green Tea

The jasmine flower, thought to have arrived in China from Persia, has been used to scent green teas for nearly 10 centuries, at least since the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Jasmine is unique among flowers blended with tea because it opens up only at night. As a result, scent­ing tea with jasmine is also done at night, by covering a bamboo tray or screen of fresh green tea leaves with a blanket of buds or flowers.


This is done in several layers, and in the morning the flowers are re­moved. This process is repeated, often as many as 11 times, before the delicate fragrance becomes a part of the tea itself. The quality of both the green tea and the jasmine differentiates each of the following styles of jasmine teas. Those from Fujian province are considered to be the best.

Tea Pigs

Valley of Tea

Matcha Green Tea

This is the famous powdered green tea made from pulverizing the highest-quality gyokuro tea into a fine powder the consistency of talc. Matcha is used primarily in chanoyu. It is made by pouring hot water (about 185°F; 85°C) onto the powdered tea in a warmed small bowl, rather than a teapot. A dampened bamboo whisk is used to stir up the matcha and water into a frothy drink that is at once sweet and astrin­gent. Use about 1/2 teaspoon of tea to 1/4 cup of water for thin tea, or two-level teaspoons to 1/2 cup of water for thick tea. Here is some of the best matcha tea available to buy in the UK.


Sencha Green Tea

Hunter green, needlelike leaves mark the sencha, which brews up to a delicate green liquor that is both grassy sweet and cleanly astringent. The grades are numerous, and even the mediocre sencha can be a de­light; but if you can afford the better ones, be prepared for a treat. Many Asian countries are now processing greens to imitate Japanese sencha and to meet the growing demand worldwide. China and Vietnam both make sencha, though most are exported to Japan.


Sencha is referred to as a “guest tea” because it is of higher quality than, say, bancha or houjicha. Usually, it is prepared with great cere­mony in a special small teapot with its spout at “9 o’clock” and its handle at”6 o’clock” instead of opposite each other. Called kyusu, the pots are used with small handleless cups made of porcelain. Sencha is excellent with sushi.


To brew, warm a small kyusu with hot water and empty it. Place 2 rounded teaspoons (10 ml) of sencha leaves in the pot and add about 1 cup (240 ml) of hot water (175°F; 80°C). Steep for just 1 minute and pour a little tea into each warmed cup. Repeat until the cups are filled. In this way, each guest receives the same quality and amount of tea. Completely pour off the liquor. Sencha is particularly rich in vitamin C and maybe infused several times.


The Tea Makers of London



Genmaicha Green Tea

This tea is a mixture of bancha or medium-quality green tea, popcorn, and toasted hulled rice kernels. This is a nutty, simple drink that tastes quite wonderful with traditional Japanese foods. Genmaicha is not a fine tea in any sense of the word but, rather, an inexpensive, everyday tea drink that is fun, flavorful, and satisfying. Brew one teaspoon in six ounces of 180°F (82°C) water for about 1 1/2 minutes.


The Tea Makers of London


Gunpowder Green Tea

This is a tea shaped to look like small pellets that imitate the gunpow­der pellets used for ammunition during the 17th century. It was one of the first teas to be exported from China to Europe and, as a result, re­mains one of the best known there. The original idea for rolling the leaves into tight balls, or pellets, was to help preserve their freshness for the long trip from China to Europe. The pellets are still lightly rolled combinations of buds and young green leaves.


They unfurl as they infuse, offering a visual demonstration of the”agony of the leaves,” the process so dramatically named in which the curled or rolled dried leaves are infused with water and open up” agonizingly.”


Originally hand-rolled, most gunpowders are rolled by machine today. To test the freshness of gunpowder, pinch or squeeze a pellet in your hand. It should resist pressure if it’s fresh; it will crumble if it’s stale. However, as always, the truest test of freshness and goodness is to cup the tea, drink it properly brewed, and let your palate be the final arbiter.


Gunpowder is frequently used in a tea blend for Moroccan mint, which incorporates a sweet digestive — the native Moroccan spearmint — with the clean, crisp taste of gunpowder green tea.  Gunpowders are most commonly from Zhejiang province, and many come from other provinces, such as Qinghai, Anhui, Hunan, and Fujian, in a variety of grades. They brew up a dark liquor.


Temple of Heaven


Dragonwell Green Tea

From Hangzhou in Zhejiang province comes the favourite green tea of mainland China. Its fresh, sweet taste has inspired poetry from Lu Yu’s time to today. Its leaves are flat, long, and vibrant green and will yield several infusions of delicate, flowery aroma and flavour from its yellow-green liquor.


Up to eight spring grades of Dragonwell are possible. Each grade is different — sometimes slightly, sometimes radically — but each has that distinctive Dragonwell taste.

Valley of Tea



Gyokuro Green Tea

Gyokuro has been referred to as”history, philosophy, and art in a single cup.”It is the best green tea in Japan. This is a premier, noble green tea made from single buds that are picked once a year. The leaves are small and extremely fragrant and tender. Gyokuro should be made with about five heaping teaspoons of long, thin leaves with about 1/2 cup of water at 120°F (49°Q. Steeped for about 1 1/2 minutes, the tea is poured off completely. The leaves can then be reinfused with slightly hotter water.



Valley of Tea


Chunmee Green Tea

Also spelt Chun Mei or Zhen Mei, the name is given to these spring­time greens because the leaves are twisted into small, curved shapes —not unlike the eyebrows of a beautiful doll. A high-grown tea from the Yunnan province of China, it produces a remarkable aftertaste from its light amber infusion that is reminiscent of plums. Multiple infusions are quite common from this subtle yet provocative tea.

Solaris. Tea

The Tea Masters



How to Store Tea

The enemies of tea are light, moisture, and odours from other foods, so a tightly constructed opaque container is important, and the size of the container should match the amount of tea. If too little tea is put into a large container, the tea will continue to oxidize. Glass and ceramic are inert and very good for teas; tins often leak because they’ve been soldered. Tea can be stored at room temperature, but if you live in a very humid or very hot environment, store your packages of tea in a cool, dry, dark cupboard for extra protection.

To Refrigerate or Not? Some green-tea sellers recommend refrigeration, but unless the pack ageing is airtight, storing tea in the refrigerator makes it vulnerable to odours and moisture. If you have the advantage of a very stable storage unit, and it can be used only for tea, you might consider that. Temperatures should be kept between 30 and 40˚F (1–4˚C), and you can store the tea for up to six months.

If you like to make tea at the office or shop, store all your tea things in a small box and keep it in a cool, dry location.

In general, forget about freezing unless you are confident that your high-quality greens have been packaged very carefully. Otherwise, the water condensation that occurs when the tea is defrosted can greatly damage it. Besides, the best protection for preserving tea is to buy it fresh, in season, and in small quantities — two to four ounces (56-112 g) at most. Since an ounce of tea should generate 15 to 30 cups, that should hold you for a little while!

How to Brewing a Perfect Cup of Green Tea

The first consideration in brewing green tea is to think of it as a delicate food, to be handled tenderly and with respect. One can compare green tea to fresh leaf vegetables. Just as a chef handles produce gently, with grace, so should you handle tea. For example, if spinach is tossed into boiling water, the result is that much of the chlorophyll and the taste go into the cooking water, leaving you with shrivelled, overcooked leaves. However, if the leaves are gently laid into a steamer, and water is al­lowed to waft up, what results is a vegetable with more flavour and colour.

1. Selecting the Water

Ideally, spring water that runs freely near where your tea grows is the best water to use. Since that’s nearly impossible for those of us who live outside the green-tea centres of Asia, bottled spring water is our best choice.

It is critical that the bottled water be spring water, taken directly from its source. Much bottled water is filtered city water and, while better than water directly from the tap, it is not the best for making tea. Some fine bottled waters are so pure and so free of minerals that they make very flat tea. Canadian, Italian, and Polish springwaters are some of the best available.

Never use distilled water; it will always make your tea flat because minerals have been removed that are essential to bringing out the flavour of the tea. Distilled water is for your irons, not tea.

The third choice would be to use a good filter system on your tap or a commercial filtering pitcher. Both are adequate.

Just as you must use your palate to guide you to teas that taste best to you, you must taste waters and decide which ones bring out the best flavour in your teas without making them flat-tasting, chemical-tasting, or off-tasting in any way.

2. Measuring the Water and the Tea

Before brewing tea, always fill a measuring cup with water (8 fluid ounces; 240 ml) and pour it into your teacup or teapot to determine ex­actly how much water it holds. The styles and shapes of cups and pots vary tremendously. One-pot may look small and actually hold 12 ounces (360 ml); another may look generous and yet actually hold only 6 ounces (180 ml).

Now that you know how much water your vessel holds, you can gauge the amount of tea to use. The ratio of tea to water is based on weight because a teaspoon of smaller leaves weighs more than a tea­spoon of larger leaves. Given equal amounts of water, a teaspoon of large leaves results in an insipid drink, while a teaspoon of small, dense leaves will give you a satisfyingly strong cup of tea.

It is always a good idea to purchase a well-calibrated scale or a well-built small food scale. A teaspoon is simply not as accurate a measuring tool as a scale. It is important to repeat that the lighter the leaves, the more you will use; the smaller, denser leaves require smaller quantities. This is probably the most critical point to learn in brewing tea: Always measure your tea. If you drink the same type all the time, the amount will become second nature to you, but until then, learning how to use a fine scale that indicates both grams and ounces will make the measuring simple.

A second critical point is to always weigh the tea to match the amount of water you will be using. Vessels vary greatly in the amount of liquid they can hold. Once you become accustomed to your teapot or teacup, and how each of your favourite green teas should taste to you, this, too, will become much simpler.

Three grams (.105 oz) of tea to five ounces (140 g) of water is best for brew­ing tea in a small teapot. Four grams (.140 oz) of tea to eight ounces (224 g) of water is best for every other method. The smaller guywans, or covered bowls, take two grams (.070 oz.) of tea to four ounces (112 g) of water. Good-quality tea leaves sink to the bottom after they have infused, so one can drink directly from the guywan or pour the liquor into smaller cups.

Tea drinkers quickly learn to be flexible. Tea is not an exact beverage; the exceptions are the rules. Trust your palate. Whenever you are not sure about amounts, use your tea mer­chant’s guidelines. You can always adjust to your own tastes from then on. When working with a new tea, use a reliable scale to measure the amount of tea you’re using. Keep notes, and keep experimenting until you find just the right amount of tea for your pot or cup.

3. Steeping the Tea


When the water boils for the first time, something akin to the eyes of the fish appear on the surface and a faint sound can be heard. Then the gurgling of a brook develops with a string of pearls round the edge: This is the second boiling. Then the turbulent waves appear: This is the third boiling

LuYu,'Ch'a Ching,' The Classic of Tea, Origins & Rituals (A.D. 780)

Lu Yu’s dictum on boiling water for tea (given above) has become standard, especially in China, where the “turbulent” waves of boiling water are for pu-erh, the pearls are for oolong and blacks, and the fish eyes are the right temperature for green tea. Pu-erh, an intentionally aged black tea from China, is the only tea that requires roiling boiling water. Most blacks and oolongs do best with nearly boiling water, about 195 to 200°F (91-93°C), though the lower temperatures are best for oolongs and the higher temperatures are best for blacks.

For greens, much lower temperatures are necessary to get the best flavour and the most infusions. The suggested temperature range is 160 to 170°F (71-76°Q, though some jasmines benefit from slightly higher temperatures (175-185°F; 79-85°Q. Brewing green tea with cooler water and shorter time results in a better flavour. Covering the pot is also critical to helping the tea leaves unfurl, and it will consistently pro­vide multiple infusions.

4. Determining Brewing Time

Generally, 30 seconds to 1 minute of steeping is best for greens, but there are exceptions. Some Ceylonese, Vietnamese, Nepalese, and Indian greens — particularly Nilgiri and Darjeeling greens — can stand longer brewing times, and some Chinese Long Jing (Dragon-well) teas do quite well at 6 or 7 minutes of brewing. Always ask your tea mer­chant or read the label for recommendations on time and temperature.

Bottom line

For thousands of years, healers and monks have noted the many benefits of tea, particularly green tea — its ability to offer refreshment, increase alertness, and stave off disease. Yet it is reassuring to know that pharmacologists, chemists, physicians, nutritionists, and others in the field of health science are recognizing the health-giving properties of tea when used consistently all through life.


  • August 9, 2020